411 Fact or Fiction 12.20.12: Flair, Ryback, Cody’s Mustache, More
Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a very interesting week in the world of professional wrestling. WWE’s TLC PPV was critically acclaimed, but Ryback wasn’t exactly critically acclaimed by the Brooklyn crowd. Alberto Del Rio’s direction seemed to change in Brooklyn, as he saved Ricardo Rodriguez & the Spanish announcers from an attack by 3MB. Raw featured the Slammy Awards and the return of Nature Boy Ric Flair, along with the debut of Big E. Langston. Mark Henry denied reports that he was ready to return. TNA’s started hyping somebody for 1-3-13. Jeff Hardy has a new album. With all of this going on, perhaps the most discussed topic of all was…Cody Rhodes’ mustache.
Well, it was the most discussed topic in my household anyway.
I’ve invited two of 411’s finest to discuss these topics. Introducing first, a man that was part of the Triumvirate of Truth until it went away. He’s good at answering these things on time & in entertaining fashion so we keep him around…here’s Michael Uphoff!
His opponent does the MMA version of this column and has good taste in pro football teams. Give it up for Wyatt Beougher!
1. You were excited to see Ric Flair return to WWE.
Michael Uphoff: FACT. I’ve pretty much always been a fan of the Nature Boy, and I was pretty happy to see him back on WWE programming. I was less than enthused with him standing tall over the WWE Champion, because even though Punk is injured, he is still the champ and should be protected and kept strong. Flair did well in selling the beating that he got from the Shield and helping guys like Ryback and Daniel Bryan shine. I wonder where Ric Flair goes from here in the WWE, maybe he becomes a manager for someone. I definitely have NO URGE WHATSOEVER to see Flair wrestle again, but I think he’d be great as a mouthpiece for someone who needs to work on their promos, like Ryback.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT, but only because of how the statement is worded. Truth is, I was legitimately excited to see Ric Flair return to the WWE last night; however, by the time the first commercial break after his return rolled around, I was already kinda dreading the possibilities. If they just trot him out on occasion to pop the crowd and don’t let him be his crazy old man self and/or wrestle, then I think this return will be fine. But if they give him too much mic time where he can get carried away and embarrass himself, or have him beat members of the Shield in a handicapped match one week while losing to Santino the next (you know this could happen), or worse – make him the heel GM (because that’s the only kind the WWE really knows how to do), then I have no desire to watch from here on out. I’d also be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as far as being the mouthpiece for his daughter if they want to bring her up from development. Unfortunately, with Trips now possessing near-omnipotence backstage, does anyone really believe it’s not just a matter of time before he’s out there wrestling Flair for either the World Title, the
WWE Title, or both?
Score: 1 for 1
2. WWE should be worried about the lack of crowd response for Ryback at the TLC PPV.
Michael Uphoff: FICTION. It may have been just me, but I didn’t really see a lack of crowd response at the TLC PPV for Ryback. They popped for him when he was hitting offense on the Shield. They were clearly heard chanting “Feed Me More! Feed Me More! Feed Me More!” and “Finish It!” I don’t see anywhere in the match where they weren’t cheering him. Hell, they were cheering everything in that match, especially when Daniel Bryan went apeshit with his kicks to two members of the Shield. I don’t think there is a lack of crowd response for Ryback; I think there is a problem in maintaining crowd response for Ryback. Watching TLC, I thought Ryback was booked well. He took a hell of a beating, but was still standing at the end of the match. I like that he was unable to make it back to the ring in time to save Bryan as well. I think the younger generation and the kids like to see him steamroll guys, and the older generation sees just another Goldberg. That’s the problem. Ryback isn’t Goldberg, will never be as popular as Goldberg, and should never be like Goldberg.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. This is what the WWE does best over the past few years – perceive a lack of crowd response and then screw up a wrestler’s push. The truth is, different crowds are going to react differently to different wrestlers and maybe it was an off night for Ryback. If you’re going to push the character of Ryback, then push him, but don’t do the starts and stops that have plagued the “undefeated badass” wrestler types in the WWE dating all the way back to Taz. Here’s an idea – you want to get a guy over as an unbeatable monster? Continually push him as such – don’t toss him out there as this dominant monster, then job him out to midcard guys week in and week out while he’s already saddled with a dancing dinosaur gimmick (just to name the last guy to debut with a somewhat lengthy undefeated streak). If you ask me, the reason the WWE is unable to create new stars is because they don’t push people consistently – they either do it intermittently, or they change the character at the first sign that their crowd reaction might be cooling off. This isn’t a science – there’s no hard and fast equation that says X guy with Y push will generate Z amount of merchandise and ticket sales, so getting all concerned because Ryback’s pop wasn’t quite what they were hoping for doesn’t do anyone any good.
Score: 2 for 2
3. Turning Alberto Del Rio face is a good decision.
Michael Uphoff: FICTION. So much of me wants to say FACT, but I can’t justify doing so. He has done okay so far, but I can’t help thinking how this will turn out one of two ways. One, it’s a short-term face turn, which begs the question why turn him face at all? Second, it’s a prolonged face turn that spins its wheels and goes nowhere, much like what is happening to the Miz right now. I think Del Rio as a face could be a good thing, but it’s too early to tell. Alberto Del Rio is such a good sleazy heel that I don’t think he could work as a face. I didn’t think Miz could work well as a face, but he seems to be okay right now. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is going to blow up in the WWE’s face.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT. I guess. While I think this will ultimately prove to be a good idea (then again, I’m an admitted ADR mark), I could easily go FICTION on this one just because I think their reason for making the turn is the worst possible reason. This is the other side of the bad booking decisions coin I mentioned in the last answer – WWE is obsessed with growing their ethnic fanbase, to the point that they make decisions based on what they think those groups want rather than what their current fans are calling for. ADR is actually one of the better heels in their upper card right now (although the maddeningly inconsistent way that he DOMINATES every opponent on weekly TV only to in turn get destroyed on PPV isn’t doing anyone any favors), and turning him face because they think it’ll be good for business in Mexico is an idea that I simply can’t wrap my mind around. They took the laziest way possible to do the face turn, rather than building it up and trying to do it organically. For a company hell-bent on trying to recreate the Austin/McMahon dynamic, they keep skipping the step where Austin and Bret did the double turn, and maybe I’m overestimating Del Rio’s ability, but I think they could’ve gotten the end result they wanted in the Sheamus feud. You’ve got the cocky playboy taking on the big, lovable (but extremely racist), loves-to-fight Irishman, and you can’t figure out how to do a double turn? Keep Ricardo off of live television after an unprovoked Brogue Kick, instead airing vignettes of ADR going to visit Ricardo as he healed. This way, you can show that ADR is more than just a shallow character and that he genuinely cares about his BFF/manservant. Have Sheamus get increasingly cocky and even more overtly racist (though I’m not entirely sure how that’s possible), have him start Brogue Kicking whoever ADR is facing in order to cost Del Rio the match, and then have him beat down Del Rio mercilessly, again without provocation, and eventually, all but the most backwards racist fans are going to start to turn on him. Conversely, show Del Rio taking this all in stride, more determined to overcome whatever Sheamus throws at him with each attack or interference, and then eventually, when you let him beat Sheamus cleanly (ideally, countering the Brogue Kick into a roll-up armbreaker), you’ve got the end result you’re looking for – Del Rio is a face and Sheamus is a monster heel.
Score: 2 for 3
4. Cody Rhodes should shave his mustache.
Michael Uphoff: FICTION. Honestly, who the hell cares? It’s not like his mustache is hurting anyone. I personally think it looks stupid, but who am I to say that a grown man can’t have a mustache? It’s getting chants from the crowd and a got a good-sized one during the Number One Contender’s Match at TLC this past weekend. I don’t see why this is important. Let him grow his mustache or don’t. I’m done caring about this topic.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. I can’t believe this is even open for debate. It’s as ridiculous as saying “Magnum PI should shave his mustache” or “Rick Rude should’ve shaved his mustache and stopped wearing tights with his face airbrushed on his crotch.” In fact, if the statement had been “Cody Rhodes should start wearing ring gear with his face airbrushed on his crotch”, I would’ve answered with a resounding FACT. What does Cook, or the WWE universe for that matter, have against facial hair? I sport a full beard, so maybe I’m biased, but when you get a mustache as “Dashing” as Cody’s, you don’t just shave that off.
Score: 3 for 4
Editors’ Note: I love Cody’s mustache! Sometimes these statements don’t reflect my actual opinion.
5. Mark Henry will not return to full time in-ring action.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. This had better be fiction, anyway. Mark Henry has become a personal favorite of mine since his ECW title reign, and he’s great at what he does, which is being a big strong guy who does big strong things that look like they hurt to people who are generally smaller than him. It’s a shame that it took the WWE almost 10 years to figure that out, but now that they have, I don’t want to see the big fella put out to pasture. Give him one more full-time run, preferably with another title reign mixed in there, and if he gets injured again, then drop him down to a part-time or “attraction” schedule. But don’t deny me weekly doses of my favorite air salesman just because he’s north of 40 and hasn’t had a run of good health
Michael Uphoff: FACT. I honestly do not think Mark Henry will return to full-time in-ring action. He is in his forties now, and when he got injured, his quality of matches was beginning to deteriorate. Part of me thinks that Henry is going to retire soon. However, before he got injured, he and The Big Show were putting on some really good matches for their size. It was really nice to see two big men wrestle well-planned and well-executed matches that used psychology. If I am right, and he does not come back to full-time, I’m going to miss that fire and intensity that he had as World Heavyweight Champion. He was fun to watch when he was destroying people.
Score: 3 for 5
6. Big E Langston feuding with John Cena will immediately get him over.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. Unless by “immediately”, you mean for the next two weeks, in which case it’s FACT. I expect Big E will continue to get the best of Cena over the next two or three weeks, but then Cena will “NEVER GIVE UP” and we’ve all seen how that ends. Guys who debut in a program with Cena and do well right off the bat generally don’t tend to have much longevity (‘sup, Tensai?), so I don’t see any reason why Langston will be different. He’ll get over initially (with everyone but the women and children), but he’ll be jobbing to Cena in humiliating fashion by the Rumble, and by Wrestlemania, he’ll be in the YouTube preshow match, teaming with Ezekiel Jackson to take on PERT.
Michael Uphoff: FICTION. I very much doubt it, but I hope I’m wrong. Nothing I saw from Big E. Langston on Monday Night RAW really impressed me, but from what I have heard he is one of the top recruits from FCW and NXT, right behind the people that have formed the Shield, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins. John Cena really needs to take some time off and heal up some nagging injuries that he never had the time to do after Extreme Rules, and a feud with Big E. Langston won’t help them. I don’t think Langston feuding with Cena will immediately get him over. It didn’t work so well with Barrett when they did it, and I have the feeling that it will go the same route here. I might be proven wrong, and I hope that might be the case. I just hope that WWE didn’t call Langston up too early to put him in a storyline to play third wheel between AJ and Cena and kill any momentum they thought he had.
Score: 4 for 6
7. The reveal for the person behind TNA’s 1-3-13 videos will not be disappointing.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. Man, I feel like I’m being awfully negative today, but has TNA ever had a “big” reveal that was actually NOT disappointing? Christian Cage and Kurt Angle were both good, but neither of them was particularly secretive. I was researching this 1-3-13 thing to see who people thought it might be, just to see if they would be disappointed, and the list of “suspects” I found was pretty underwhelming – Abyss (Joseph Park is constantly one of the best parts of the show), Crimson, Sting – each of these guys would be a disappointment, in my eyes. I did come across a funny comment, though, that was along the lines of “it’s Hogan, brother. Even though he’s already on tv, it’s Hogan – it’s always Hogan, brother. Brother.”
Michael Uphoff: FICTION. I so very desperately want to say FACT on this one, I really do. However, TNA has been regressing of late on their quality of programming. They were taking major steps earlier in 2011 and 2012 with solid booking decisions and good to great PPV’s being delivered again and again, but after the last few months, it feels like TNA has lost their footing and been stumbling around, trying to find anything that will work. I don’t care for Aces and Eights anymore, and I don’t know what the hell they’re doing with AJ Styles. Having Jeff Hardy win the TNA World Championship was a joke, and they ruined a great title run by Austin Aries. While the videos that TNA has created certainly look intriguing and interesting, I ultimately think that TNA will find some way to make this disappointing and the reveal will be something soon forgotten.
Score: 5 for 7
8. You would buy Jeff Hardy’s Similar Creatures music album.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. Without listening to any music that Hardy’s ever made (at least not knowingly), I can’t say that I would. I’ve never listened to Fozzy unless they were on RAW, I’ve never listened to the Luchagors – in general, I like my wrestlers and my music to be separate, unless it’s watching Velvet or Mickie in country videos. Oh, or Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2 – that’s a classic album, right there.
Michael Uphoff: FICTION. I would not buy any of his music. I don’t even watch him on TV anymore, why would I buy any of his music? Pretty much any music I want I can download for free, or for a small fee, and even for a small fee I wouldn’t buy any of his music. I’d rather buy Mickie James’s country music albums before I bought any of Jeff Hardy’s music. I’d rather buy Jillian Hall’s CD before Jeff…..well, that’s a stretch. Vince McMahon’s theme music pretty much sums it up for me.
Final Score: 6 for 8
Wyatt & Michael agree most of the time, but part ways when it comes to Mark Henry’s future & ADR’s potential as a face. Let us know how you feel about these topics down in the comment section! Thanks to Wyatt & Michael for participating, and we’ll be back next week with more Fact or Fiction!